Think that Halloween candy is the only thing that can put a major spike in your blood sugar this holiday season? Think again. There are tons of sneaky sources of extra hidden sugar in the American diet and many of us are unaware of those hidden sources. Read on for common ways that you, along with millions of Americans, might be unknowingly adding excess sugar to your daily diet.
Sugary Cereals, Granolas, and Instant Oatmeal
Americans and their beloved cereal brands are in a long-term committed
relationship. However, many Americans are unaware just how much these popular brands are cheating on their health. Cereals and granolas are often touted as “healthy” and nutritious but are just packed with unnecessary sugar and simple carbohydrates. Pick cereals that have whole grains and high fiber content, with a low sugar count (http://www.cookinglight.com/ eating-smart/smart-choices/ best-healthy-cereals). Oatmeal can be a great alternative because it contains fiber and can make you feel fuller longer. But some instant Oatmeal varieties can contain just as much hidden sugar as those cereals. Instead, make your own oatmeal and sweeten it yourself. That way, you are in control of just how much sugar is added.
Juices and Smoothies
Fruit is sweet enough on its own without all the added sugar! Limit juices as much as possible and watch out for added sugar. Look for labels that specify “no added sugar” if you can’t live without your main squeeze in the morning. Also, avoid anything that doesn’t say 100% fruit juice. Fruit drinks have as much hidden sugar as sodas sometimes! Remember that consuming whole fruit is preferable because whole fruit contains more fiber and nutrients than just juice alone. Make smoothies with whole fruits such as berries and water, or unsweetened nut milks, instead of juice for a healthier smoothie.
Ever wonder how something that’s supposedly “healthy” can taste just like a candy bar? That’s because these things typically contain the same amount of, if not more, sugar than their candy counterparts. (http://www.huffingtonpost.
com/2013/09/14/the-sneaky- sugar-in-your-candy_n_3924136. html). It’s time to view these things as they are: glorified candy bars! Trail mix, a healthy mix of protein from nuts, seeds and a small amount of dried fruit might be a better option for fueling your body during a workout.
Sports drinks can contain just as much sugar as soft drinks. Unless you’re taking part in a super-intense workout (usually over 45 minutes) or you skipped breakfast (which is also not recommended!), chances are, your body does not need this many carbohydrates all at once (http://runnersconnect.net/
running-nutrition-articles/ best-sports-drink-marathon/). Give your body the hydration it really wants with just water. You could even add some flavor by infusing it with fruit (http://www.buzzfeed.com/ melissaharrison/fruit-infused- waters).
Lunch and Dinner Time:
Peanut butter and Jelly sandwiches are a favorite in the American diet, but do you know just how much hidden sugar is in your PB & J? Fruit jelly is usually a staple, and a sweet addition, to any peanut butter and jelly sandwich. However, along with lots of natural sugar from fruit, jellies contain high amounts of added sugar. Instead of sugar-filled jellies, a better addition to a PB & J would be whole berries, such as black berries, raspberries or apple slices. But if you must have your fruit jelly, make sure it has no added hidden sugar.
This brings us to the PB part of the popular lunch staple. Many people don’t realize that store-bought peanut butter contains added sugar. Keep your peanut butter simple and check the labels to make sure that your peanut butter is just that and that it doesn’t contain all that unnecessary added sugar.
Ketchup and Tomato-Based Sauces and Soups
Did you know that many store bought brands add sugar to their tomato-based products to balance out the natural acidity of tomatoes (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/
femail/food/article-2982540/ The-surprising-foods-high- levels-sugar-revealed.html)? Look for sauces and soups that don’t contain added sugar in their list of ingredients. Use ketchup in moderation or just skip this condiment altogether! You could also make your own if you’re feeling extra crafty (http://www.onegreenplanet. org/vegan-food/how-to-make- sugar-free-organic-ketchup/).
White Rice, Breads and Pastas
Simple carbohydrates such as refined and processed white breads and pastas are notoriously known for spiking your blood sugar. Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grain oats and whole grain pastas are a better choice because they “are digested more slowly, prompting a more gradual rise in blood sugar” (http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/
nutritionsource/carbohydrates/ carbohydrates-and-blood-sugar/ ). According to Everyday Health, “people who eat more whole grains and fewer refined grains (including white bread) have less of the type of body fat that can trigger heart disease and type 2 diabetes.” (http://www.everydayhealth. com/type-2-diabetes-pictures/ foods-that-spike-blood-sugar. aspx#03), Eating a bunch of white rice is also a bad idea if you are trying to keep your blood sugar levels under control. Opt for brown rice, instead, which has more fiber than white rice and fiber “can help keep blood sugar levels stable” (http://www. everydayhealth.com/type-2- diabetes-pictures/foods-that- spike-blood-sugar.aspx#02).
Now that you know some common and downright sneaky ways that hidden sugar can make its way into your diet, you can hopefully avoid it in the future. You might even become better at catching it hiding in other unsuspecting places, as well! By making a few simple switches to your daily diet, and preparing foods yourself, you can avoid the tons of excess and completely unnecessary added sugar in the typical American diet and keep your blood sugar levels under control.